Everyday Spirituality

Actually working to understand why ancient quotes can still be useful today is what this blog is all about. It’s not like drive-thru religion where you get a quick dose of spirituality without all the rules, and its not like traditional religion where following all the rules automatically leads to salvation regardless of the other deeds in your life–this is about those other deeds being your church. This is about you being dedicated to being human.

Reading quotes, finding one that vaguely applies to your situation and posting it on social media does not mean you’re pursuing your spirituality, it means your ego likes being seen as being spiritual. You can’t just dress the part, go to yoga and post the quotes; you have to ask yourself challenging questions. Questions like, what does the quote I posted really mean; or how can I take yoga from stretching and flexing into actual personal development?

The answer is meditation, but not the Ohmm meditation that monks do. You want to be like Siddhartha, sitting under the tree pondering why suffering exists. You want to ask yourself questions that don’t appear to have answers. You want to know how one wise guide can tell you to be peaceful by rejecting victory and loss, and yet another tells you that you can’t be balanced until you agree to lose.

The key is to understand desire. Desire requires a result. You’re after something. You have a specific outcome in mind and your life is oriented toward achieving that outcome. The problem with the outcome is that is that it’s theoretical. This is why even the slowest fifty year old is wiser than a someone in their early 20’s thinks they’ve found their answer.

You can’t have the answer because that will change as you become different people through your experiences. We tend to think we’ve found the answer when we find a route to the future that finally makes sense to us, but then we think we’re lost when our old answer doesn’t suit our new selves and we feel trapped or directionless. It’s not the answer that changed, it’s the person asking it.

It’s a constant rejuvenation process. That’s why they call it spiritual practice. But aging is like a church where you’re constantly delivered new real-life parables that need explaining. Why did that person try so hard to date you and then leave you? Why did you think this was your dream job and now you hate it? Why can’t you lose weight the way you want to? What is the definition of the word friend?

Over time we ask countless questions but we look for the answers outside of ourselves. We conclude either we are good and the ex is wrong, or we are faulty and they’re right; the dream job either has the wrong boss, or maybe you do really suck; you’re either mad at your mother for teaching you bad eating habits or you self-hate; and you conclude either that your ex friends are bad people or you conclude you’ve not been good enough. Winning and losing, winning and losing.

Even when you win, now you have to stay on top. That takes effort and you’ll be a different person sometime within the next eight or so years, so maybe that effort won’t seem wise. That’s because winning and losing are funny terms. They almost shouldn’t exist as static ideas. They only mean something in the moment you’re in.

If you listen to interviews with people over 50 years old, almost invariably you’ll hear them discuss their challenges more than their successes. They almost seem bored or uncomfortable with success because by then they’ve realised it’s largely chance. They also know that when you get there it doesn’t look like it did when you embarked on that journey.

After enough disappointing “wins” we start questioning the meaning of winning. If half of North American marriages end in divorce, then those marriages weren’t a dream come true; they devolved into a nightmare. But if you knew that at the time you wouldn’t have chosen it as your path. And yet as you age you realise that your marriage wasn’t wrong, it just didn’t work out long term. You still walk away with a better idea of what kind of person you’re really looking for in the future.

Victory and loss are tied together. If we live without the desire for a victory we cannot lose. We don’t need goals so much as targets. The getting there isn’t the point, it’s about being sanguine for as much as the journey as possible.

Victories and losses are judgments laid over top of events. Remove that static idea and the meaning of those moments can always change, meaning any defeat could become a victory, and any victory a defeat. Everything lives in potential. There’s no need to win now when we know can we live in a way that seeks value from all our interactions, even the ones we attempt to avoid.

peace. s

The 7-5-3 Code

Yesterday I gave you some basic strategies to avoid having your irritations and frustrations evolve into anger. Today I’ll tell you the more challenging part, which is how to recover once you’re upset. Before I set the context, fair warning: you might find parts of this story difficult.

In life in general I do attempt to set myself up to do well under challenging circumstances by basically following the same code a Samurai would use for health. I will admit it’s been tough getting enough sleep in these last few years that have included caring for my parents–but I eat pretty well, I have natural exercise built into my life, and I actively care about myself and the world around me.

As this blog is a testament, I always seek and greatly value having a calm, clear, alert awareness in order to achieve a healthy emotional balance and the highest levels of performance. But I can’t do that all the time and the day I’m going to tell you about was preceded by a week of bad food, too little sleep, and a loss of awareness.

Work was extremely busy and it was a very critical time on a long project. My parents had a stomach flu and didn’t want to eat, and what they wanted to eat came right back out one end of them or the other. At 91 they don’t move fast so I was cleaning up all over the place and yes, it was super gross.

I was doing a lot of extra cleaning and wiping and fluid checking (during which I was washing up incessantly to try to avoid catching it too because that would even be worse). Since I generally cook for them and I wasn’t joining them in their dry toast, I wasn’t eating either. I was always often finishing so late that it prevented me from getting enough important work done and that made me think too much. It was a recipe for disaster.

A while ago we had to shift Dad to an adult diaper. It’s just a minor one, mostly for the 10% of the time where he quits peeing just a moment after he puts himself back into his shorts. In those cases you can say, “Dad you should change,” and after he finally hears you he’ll do it fine on his own.

But this day included the flu. I’d just sat down after cleaning up vomit in three different parts of the house when he very notably jumped up off the sofa and then shuffled faster than I’d seen him go since his last stroke. Look, this is where I’m just going to be candid. Dad’s got a liquified stomach, 91 year old legs trying to get him to a toilet 40 feet away, and along the way his only defense is a 91 year old asshole. It’s just not as snug as it was when he was younger, and it’s okay if you laugh.

Sure enough he couldn’t keep it together and whatever happened before I got the door opened I’m not sure, but to put it bluntly there was a lot of poo–including on Dad, the wall, the bathtub, everywhere. It smelled worse than anything I’d ever encountered in my life. I worked to hide my gagging from him.

This is where I felt myself start a rise. My mistake was, I wasn’t fully aware of my father’s vulnerable state or it easily would have moved me to active compassion. No, I made the experience about me, and so rather than being present with him I started thinking about how long it was going to take me to clean everything up.

Dad had his diaper back up and so I gave him a bag to put it in and I asked him to put on a new one. I got to cleaning the bathroom all while thinking about the uncompleted important work sitting on my desk. The smell was brutal, and now my stomach was starting to rumble too.

About halfway through cleaning the bathroom (I’ll save you the horrible details), I stopped thinking about me for a moment and that helped me realise that Dad can’t balance, and so he sits when he changes his pants. I looked at the mess and thought to myself, Dad went in there to change a dirty diaper…!

I leapt up, raced to his bedroom and sure enough, he’d stood up to pull off the old one. It was overfull and didn’t keep it’s contents together, so his ass is still covered in poo. And just as I came in–just after he drops the dirty diaper half on the floor and half into the bag I gave him–he does what’s logical to his Dementia-influenced mind and yes, he sat down on the bed to put on a new diaper. I tried to stop him but it was too late. It was awful. I snapped at him. “Great Dad. Now I’ve got to wash the bedding too!” It did not feel good to say.

I ordered (ordered!?) him back into the bathroom because I had to get him cleaned up before I finished cleaning the bathroom, floor and bed. I had already calmed myself down quite a bit by the time I was helping him get cleaned off. It was an extremely intimate moment for both of us. This wasn’t a baby who doesn’t understand what you’re doing for them. We’re both adults and it was the first time he’d needed that level of help in the bathroom. I could see the shame in his eyes–something I never saw before in my life. My heart immediately broke.

As I stopped thinking about me and started getting present with him and his vulnerability, my rectitude flooded back and I used courage to move past my own shame. I placed my hand warmly on my Dad’s naked back. I looked him in the eyes, and with open honesty and sincerity I said, “I’m sorry for getting upset Dad. You’re more important than my schedule. You’re my Dad and I love you. That was my fault. I’m sorry. I’m learning how to do all this Dementia stuff too. I’ll do better next time.” He liked that.

That helped me shift my own emotional tone even further, and the kindness and respect that I attempt to always to cultivate returned. As I wiped him off and he relaxed into his new reality, I looked him in the eye and we connected in a way we never have in all my life. He was saying thank you with his eyes in a very tender and loving way, and as I rubbed his back I warmly and lovingly responded, “You’re doing great Dad. You’re just sick that’s all. We’ll get through this together. I’m with you through this no matter what. You’ve been a great Dad. I love you and I’m here for you.”

He’ll forget it all happened in twenty minutes. But our experience was real. He started to offer an apology but I told him that it wasn’t necessary. He was sick and I was caring for him and I had not done my duty. My parents had been there for all of my gross kid-parts, I was not going to shy away from them when it was their turn to need the same care. He could count on me. And boy, could I see the comfort that last part gave him.

I cannot tell you how much I respect healthy, professional care workers who do these same things, with the same levels of compassion,  all for people who are entirely unknown to them. I now know how they’re able to do those very tough jobs; it’s because, just like everything else in life, if you’re willing to push past some really challenging feelings, you’ll end up experiencing important and meaningful things that too many people miss out on.

As gross and as challenging as it was, I now wouldn’t trade that day for anything. I wouldn’t trade the moment that Dad and I shared for anything. And I was happy to wash those sheets. Yes, I would be late getting work done and people were going to be upset. But my Dad was okay, and I’d been the person I most like to be; comforting. When I finally laid my head down on my pillow I went to sleep feeling like it had been a really good day.

You too can turn your worst days into your best. But it requires an awareness of the present moment and the ability to change your emotional tone by adjusting the focus of your mind. Practice both now. No matter who you are you’ll need it. And when you do, you’ll understand even more why it’s so important. Because if people behave according to their deepest feelings, loving someone in the trenches bonds a relationship together like nothing else.

peace. s

PS And if you’re wondering–yes–just as they were getting better I did actually catch the flu myself. 🙂

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.

The Enlightenment Misconception

My accident lead me to question reality in a very fundamental way at a very young age. Once I was old enough to embark on a serious spiritual journey, I sought out teachers who might be able to answer some of my deeper questions about reality. Unfortunately, I was inclined to do what you likely do, which is I looked for the wrong people.

With no intention of being ironic, I thought I should look for someone super peaceful, living some super peaceful and respected life. I thought I would recognise them as having achieved something grand and meaningful. But I misunderstood what grand and meaningful were, and so I rarely found them. Because most of them weren’t wearing saffron robes, they weren’t doing yoga and they their lives were surprisingly ordinary.

Part of the reason for this is that once you’ve understood what you’re trying to understand, you realise that no one can take this journey for you, and so no one needs your help. You realise that all you were supposed to do is live your life without the constant thought-based evaluation of how you’re doing in relation to some imaginary goal. Our lives would be instantly more enjoyable if only we would stop second guessing ourselves.

Rather poetically, the first time my life became truly difficult was the same time that, by most external perspectives, I would have appeared to have been failing. I surrendered a life of status and money and power–all in the highly coveted and ever-popular media world (I truly had an awesome job)–to pursue a much smaller, much more obscure life doing something that a lot of people I knew thought was crazy. (This.) But that’s the key isn’t it? They thought that.

Thanks to that accident, in the midst of what should have been a broken heart, a huge sense of betrayal and a financial disaster, I was left with the opposite question most people  would have. I couldn’t figure out why I was okay with the idea of life being so difficult. This isn’t to say I liked it; it was just more that I accepted it. Any second guessing I did in my consciousness was profoundly painful and the pain acted as a very meaningful teacher.

I could occasionally (or at times even frequently), get caught up in personal thoughts that resisted my experience. These felt like hell. I felt very singular, as though it was all happening to me in particular. The suffering helped me grasp that when I felt better, I felt less like this was my life and more like an actor in a much larger play.

When I wasn’t thinking the resistant thoughts, I was peaceful inside with the knowledge that, like all roles, once I was finished playing this character I would either assume yet another or I would die and return to my real self. I was peaceful in the knowledge that nothing in the play I was performing in would change that.

What I had before was wonderful and I am deeply grateful for the experience. Almost every role I played in this giant improv has been an enjoyable one. I got to go to amazing places and meet incredible people and work on enjoyable and meaningful work. But I realised that the reason I was doing it all was not because other people felt it was a great life, but because I did.

Just like with movies and TV, being a loving and supportive caregiver to my parents was simply what I truly felt compelled to do. The financial strains and time and energy challenges all happen in the external world, but internally more of my time than ever is spent being in and sharing love.

I love making art. I love teaching people to see their strengths and opportunities. But there is something deeply meaningful and profound in helping your beloved father as he struggles with new challenges in the bathroom. There are moments where we look into each others eyes and we feel badly for what we’re putting each other through, but we both move quickly past those to simply being grateful that we’re in it together. That vulnerability is what makes the moment so powerful and filled with love.

I fail more than I ever have before. When my expectations are too high I lose patience when it doesn’t help. When I think too much I feel tired and alone. But most of the time, when we’re just making our way through it without all the thoughts about how we wish it was, I realise that I have never loved my parents more or felt closer to them. And that is why, if you do whatever you do with a lot of inner peace, even failing is a form of success.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.

The Guru

1093-relax-and-succeed-my-love-is-unconditionalYou can become conscious of externalised thoughts and act in the moment. You can become conscious of your judgments of others and you can meditate to create more understanding. You can silence your own attacks on a thought-created identity you mistake for the real you. And you can understand that each of those actions are subdivisions of one universal action.

The only remaining step for meditation is to be challenged. This can come through text, as it does here and through books, or even through visual and/or auditory means. But each of these will be generalised deliveries. And like young monks, that is plenty as people first begin to shift their awareness.

Once that initial stage is over it is common for people to feel motivations to connect. This is a healthy impulse emerging from the person’s sense of certainty. There is a point where people have crossed the line from wanting the world and ourselves to be better, to taking responsibility for reality and ourselves and then learning to manage that. It’s a very big moment of spiritual maturity.

1093-relax-and-succeed-sometimes-one-createsOnce people have lived in this new way for three or four years they can easily tell the difference between the many false guides who use the right words, versus the few who speaks from knowing. They sound almost exactly alike from a position of ego, but nothing alike to people living with clarity. How’s that for some spiritual irony?

Watch for humility. It is the balance point between confidence and ignorance. In humility we know what we know and we also know what we don’t know–and we’re entirely fine that both realities exist because they are merely expressions of the idea of yin and yang. At the same time, you will hear a particular confidence in the voice of someone who sees clearly.

Even the “wrong” guru can be a worthwhile aspect of your search in that they will eventually trigger your wiser self and you’ll feel it as a sort of resistance. Your denial of true responsibility might upset you, but deep down you’ll know a real guru’s correct shortly thereafter. The other kind of upset will build over time because the process itself will feel either too organised and general, or otherwise it tends to feel as though it lacks direction.

1093-relax-and-succeed-i-cannot-but-see-you-as-myselfYou could find a guru in any walk of life. Some are professional and some not. They can also be in traditional uniforms of knowledge. Over the years I’ve worked with a variety of counsellors, doctors or psychologists or psychiatrists on their own challenges, and yet I would submit they could be very useful guides. As someone further down the path of their own earnest discovery process, the person doesn’t need to know the whole forest to know the way in certain parts of the forest. And some of them know the forest well.

The opposite of that is seen when I get reports back from readers about their counsellor, doctor, or even religious leader presenting these very posts as modified versions of their own work. This unwillingness to engage in humility is a sign that the person may be a useful example for learning from, but the people confirming with me are correct to sense the person is likely not a legitimate guide. A real one is happy to use whatever is helpful in conveying aspects of the otherwise invisible reality at hand.

Contrary to that are the professionals who love to expand to their own awareness and connections. They feel almost childlike in their excitement. That innocence and enthusiasm is always a good sign. You’ll see some of those people commenting on various blogs here and elsewhere. There is no end to discovery within this infinite realm. You’re just looking for someone who understands how to see it, not someone who can see it all at once.

1093-relax-and-succeed-take-a-smileThey won’t have to be near you, they won’t have to be anything like you, but when you feel the compulsion to connect regarding your journey, that is when a guide should be sought. They will never have difficulty metaphorizing their wisdom for you regardless of who you are, and while you absolutely will feel challenged by them, you will just as certainly feel cared about.

More important than which meditation you do, and more important than who you do them with, is simply that you do them. Maintain your commitment to this week’s awarenesses and you will notice a shift in your understanding. And that shift, will bring increased peace. That shift is what you’re really looking for.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.

Rewarding Discomfort

1072-relax-and-succeed-the-reason-people-awakenYesterday we did a meditation that was designed to help you recognise that you and everyone around you is viewing things from a perspective. Without even noticing it, you too belong to a perspective group. Even if you’re in one of the most popular groups, that’s still includes fewer people than you might think.

Even with someone from a very different background or culture, you will have a lot more commonalities than differences if your perspective is similar. A very aggressive and social personality that lives in rural Zimbabwe will have more in common with an aggressive, social, urban Japanese person than they will with a fellow rural Zimbabwean who’s passive and introverted.

Can you see that for this reason, when you ask people for advice only a small percentage of people will say anything truly useful? Most people will tell you what a mind like theirs would do, but that’s based on their own experiences and the resulting capabilities. They can’t really tell you what you should do. It’s still good to hear other ideas regardless, because those do help you find the one that’s truly yours. But don’t look at some great person and think you should do what they did just because they’re great. You don’t get great by being a certain way, you realise your greatness by being courageous enough to be yourself.

1072-relax-and-succeed-never-stop-lovingWhy do people need courage to be themselves? If you’re not out there actually trying to physically harm anyone and you’re not trying to undermine loving relationships, then what made you think that the way you are is unacceptable?

Because most people don’t know what it is to act without the social fear of not belonging. Societies are set up to give you some lines to walk between. Every society has their own lines, but the group you want to get yourself into starts to ignore the directions of the lines and instead they focus on why you or anyone else is going the way you are. They don’t care if you’re lined up with the lines anymore, you only care if you actions are loving or not.

Today your job is to find times where you were courageous and times where you were cowardly. You’re not a better person when you’re courageous, but when you’re courageous you will act more naturally. It’s our nature to be loving, so you can see how the ego-view can be confusing if it overlaps with a societal rule.

1072-relax-and-succeed-the-primary-teachingIf you view people from an ego perspective, nice behaviour can appear loving when really it’s just professional or possibly even a performance for others. That kind of niceness eventually turns into a poison because it’s motivated by abstract ideas like duty or correctness, rather than being like the core of all spirituality, which emerges from love.

You may never have noticed it, but if you’re in alignment with the Tao even you can feel pretty good about failing as long as it’s in a loving direction. At worst your loss is poignant. But you can do the right thing as far as the rules are concerned and still you’ll be tortured if you didn’t follow the Tao. No matter how technically correct he or she is, it’ll still be painful for a Detroit sheriff to throw out an unemployed single mom and her kids because she owes on her water bill.

1072-relax-and-succeed-the-world-doesnt-want-to-be-savedToday’s meditation asks you to find four instances in your life: two where you did something technically correct but it felt terrible, and two where you broke the rules but it felt right. And as with all of these meditations, the idea isn’t just to find them and write them in like test answers. The value is in really looking at the event from your new perspective. Revisit these times that you wouldn’t have were it not for these meditations. Look at them closely. Recognise your own courage. See it’s value.

Two each. Look for the big ones. The ones that stuck with you. They can be big or small to the outside world, but these are the ones that bring you shame or a healthy sense of pride. See that those feelings are not actually aligned with society’s lines. See that those feelings are aligned with you, because you are aligned with something much more significant than some lines in the sand.

Have a wonderful day everyone.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.

The Friday Dose #136: A Season of Compassion

1053-fd-relax-and-succeed-compassion-is-the-radicalismMy family’s not religious in any way but, since we all grew up in a countries that were predominantly Christian at the time, we celebrate Christmas where others may celebrate Diwali, Ramadan or Hanukkah etc etc etc. When these events are and what they are called and what rituals we do are simply cultural. But the spiritual part underlying every meaningful celebration is really about love.

There’s a lot of frustrated people today trying to keep up with change. The next generation wants to live like Star Trek. No more races or wars, just a Federation cooperating on managing Earth and travelling out to new worlds. It’s all very hopeful. So the route from here to there is pretty simple and Ellen does a good job of drawing our attention to what is important to do as we make that journey to a brighter future.

I’ll start the Best of Series next week everyone. I hope you all have a wonderful break if you get one, and if not you have to work–I’ll be right alongside you too, so there’s no reason we can’t make even a busy working period into something festive and worthwhile. I wish you all the very best.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.

Egos and The Great Unknown

1051-relax-and-succeed-dont-look-for-me-in-human-shapeMy students/clients see me for one of two reasons; for psychological struggles and for spiritual growth. Part of the problem is that everyone gets taught to see our spiritual selves as separate from our psychological selves. In truth one is a product of the other, as ego is to soul.

They’ve recently been doing a lot of brain research and after all of these years they are now finally serious conversations by neuroscientists regarding the idea that our consciousness may not be a product of our brain but rather it may be a separate entity, as-yet undefined by science, that has a relationship with the brain but is not the brain itself. You’ll often see me referring to the electricity in your brain as being separate from your brain and I mean the same thing. The trick is there’s no words for some of these things and in a way we don’t want any.

Words are symbols and can be assembled into narrative stories that lead us to have emotional responses, but those responses are not reality, rather reality allows you to see your actions as both being from an individual, and the actions would exist within some kind of logical framework.

1051-relax-and-succeed-the-moment-i-am-awareYour spirit is a strange thing that is both small and immense at the same time. The reason that can be true is that it is simultaneously you and yet you are just one tentacle of the Universal Octopus; a beam of light from the Great Universal Mirror Ball. Everyone thinks that’s what they want: Enlightenment. But it’s not, trust me. Even if you get it you’ll immediately know you don’t want to stay there. Can you imagine it’s boring in a way?

Imagine feeling like God. That’s Enlightenment. But that all-powerful feeling that goes with that all-powerful energy in that all-powerful non-space is doing everything, and everything at once is like trying to watch every channel at once. Lots of it can be amazing but it’s not very enjoyable.

The individual seemingly linear lives that we lead are just the universe weaving paths through itself. You take the sense of infinity and you filter it into a world using some base concepts which also live within infinity. Once applied, they become like the six formulas that essentially describe our entire universe. That’s our “space” as humans. That’s our realm. That’s somewhere we can build a narrative track. We can appreciate our three dimensions but others we can only prove; we can’t experience them directly.

1051-relax-and-succeed-we-are-the-witness-through-whichThe problem has been that you want to control your character through the TV and you can’t do that. You can’t deal with a post-thought world and expect to accomplish anything except for when your ego happens to go the way you wished it would. But even that’s fine because the ego-world is where there’s up and down and winners and losers; that is like the playing field and those formulas are the rules and from there we’re free to roam, but it’s important to keep in mind you’re the actor not the role.

You’re not actually on TV, that’s a character. You’re the actor back in a studio performing that character. The rest is a transmission, reception and interpretation. Any good actor is fully invested in their role, so in relation to the other characters in this play called life, you can all take the words in the script literally. But once a performance is over it’s important for the actor to drop character and just be themselves, lest they go crazy.

You don’t have to figure everything out. You can’t. It’s too huge. Relax more. Just observe. Others. You. Just observe the game. Trust me, you’re part of the Great Void as well. You have unimaginable wisdom within you if only you’d quiet your thoughts so that you could hear the universe.

Go ahead. Genuinely try to win your life-games. But do not mistake that for your larger journey, for that would be like taking the entire life of an actor and reducing it down to a single role. You’re much bigger than that. Have a great day.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.

Clinging vs Flow

1040-relax-and-succeed-wow-nothingA friend’s been taking tiny bits of my course whenever he gets lost, and last night he had the huge epiphany he’s been waiting for; the one where he understands deeply enough that he knows he’s always fine from here on in. And how’s this one different? Why’s he fine? Because he knows now that he can be fine even when he’s not fine. He can live that seeming paradox because now he’s got more dimensions to his universe.

How’d that happen? Hey, that’s a wonderful kind of magic I’d rather not even try to explain. From my perspective I just say the same simple thing a million times in different ways and eventually people hear enough parts of it that they realise I’m describing a diamond that they are only allowed to see a few facets of at a time. Later they realise that their entire life is just them travelling in no particular order around that infinite diamond and they’ll never see all of anyway so they might as well surrender.

Today my friend learned how to close the final gap through a surrendering in his understanding. He was clinging to an ego-tree in the forest of life. He was asking me what tree was his tree? What tree was the right tree for his spirit? I told him his spirit was something in motion. It could cling to an ego and sit still. It takes a lot of energy to avoid experiences by trying to cling to certainty.

1040-relax-and-succeed-you-hang-onto-your-painOur choices ultimately are that we can swing through the jungle on vines of belief in an area of the forest we know as our territory, or we can can try to own the territory by stopping our motion and by clinging to individual stationary trees. Our egos latch onto an attachment and we wonder what to do about it because suddenly we’ve lost the swinging motion and gravity feels heavier. So that was him. He’s cling to this tree saying, Scott, it really hurts holding onto this tree. How do you hold one so that it doesn’t hurt?

Hurting is holding. There’s no answer to his silly question. The answer is to start swinging again. He needs to stop sitting still trying to figure out why swinging felt better than clinging, he just needs to know from his experience that it’s true and then swing. His reality is just as good as anyone else’s. The rest is just churning around in our consciousness when we could be having fun.

Last night he said, what if I go the wrong way? I tell him there is no wrong way with swinging. You just swing. He says, what about the tension on the vine if I swing too far? I remind him that’s just the universe telling him not to swing so far. He shouldn’t get greedy about an experience. He must be willing to move from moment to moment fluidly, without an attachment to the current vine nor an expectation of the coming one.

1040-relax-and-succeed-i-cannot-teach-anybody-anythingYou can sit and worry about what’s happened. You can sit and worry about what might happen. Or, you can place your attention on the present moment and actually manage what is happening. One creates a rewarding life, the rest is clinging. You can pay attention to the vine or the tree. It’s always up to you. Heaven and hell.

What my friend did wasn’t amazing, although it felt so amazing he cried. It was just like I told him it was gonna be. It was like he realised that the keys he was looking for were in his hand already. He had trouble believing it it was so easy in the end. He realised everything I had told him was literally true if he just would have gone with me and made the leap. But he found his way the way everyone does; he found his own way and that was just perfect.

I can’t claim I was worried about him. I always knew he was fine. It’s like watching the sky worry about the weather. You wonder, why? You’re so huge, those clouds are so temporary. But thinking is clinging, so he sure thought he wasn’t fine for a while. He still will occasionally feel lost. But at least now he knows that even if I’m not around, he’ll always be able to get himself off the tree and back swinging forward on a vine. And that’s all you could ever really want for someone you love.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.

The Friday Dose #133: Biocentrism

1038-fd-relax-and-succeed-i-have-the-same-religion-as-this-treeI haven’t changed my view of how the universe works since I was five. It all makes sense, but it makes sense as dreams within dreams. You can discuss parts of logically, but the whole is too expansive and complex to ever be captured by anything smaller than the universe itself. So while you can grow to the point where you can quite clearly see facets of creation, that perspective also exposes how infinite the universe is, and in accepting that fact there is a beautiful calm that comes over one when you no longer need answers.

Science has grown increasingly close to my understanding over the years, with there being major steps; as when science began to contemplate and then finally accept the idea of neuroplasticity. As time goes on these ideas seem less crazy and more possible and I continue to be on the hunt for bold scientists who are going in the same direction I am.

1038-fd-relax-and-succeed-biocentrismI don’t agree with every single statement that was made when I heard this interview in October, but I did immediately note this discussion as–by far–the closest description I’ve ever heard a scientist give to the reality I know.

I’m not sure what percentage of my readers are prepared to entertain ideas this big and complex, but if you are that type, I really do feel you have a good chance of illuminating some dark areas of your understanding if you do listen to this description of the dance that is done between what you see as you and what you see as the universe.

Ideas: Dr. Robert Lanza on Biocentrism

Have a great weekend everyone.

peace. s

The Eightfold Path

1016-relax-and-succeed-all-beings-trembleYesterday we discussed two common descriptions of the Four Noble Truths. In the other common expression of those Truths the final stanza is different from those discussed yesterday in that it tells you that the path to the cessation of suffering is The Eightfold Noble Path, which relates to the Truth’s daily manifestations. In short, you must live in daily alignment with your spirituality lest your spirituality be a hollow theory rather than enacted enlightenment.

Right View merely means that you must perceive things as they truly are, which are manifestations of your thoughts about reality. Your ego must not colour reality and then react to itself rather than to the world. Your opinions about people are not those people.

Right Intention relates to the respect contained within your intention. This is why some people can use what gets called a racist word in a non-racist way; people are confident of their intention and so the word’s meaning can be altered. Likewise, people can use all of the right words but still fail on The Eightfold Path because they maintain status-based intentions, even if that’s just who’s right and who’s wrong.

1016-relax-and-succeed-the-eightfold-noble-pathRight Speech means that your words must heal and not harm. This gets trickier when it comes to telling people painful truths like talking to them about an addiction but, even in those situations, if we calm ourselves we will know those times when the only thing preventing us from speaking up is that our ego wants to be liked more than our spirit (which is the same in all of us) wants to be respected. Use your words to heal and not harm.

Right Action is to take the same positive attitude with behaviour that you take with communication, so if your friend is going to leave a party drunk and drive home then you have to not only say something, you have to take the keys too. You cannot worry about your ego being liked the next day; you have to do the right thing in the moments you’re in and not wish you did them later. Most guilt comes from non-action.

Right Livelihood is one of the trickiest ones for people because we can get good at justifying things when they reflect well on our ego and make our material life better. When it comes to relating Right Speech and Right Intention and Right Action, to our work, it’s suddenly easy to understand why Upton Sinclair said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on not understanding it.” There’s a lot of people who pray regularly who will still comfortably prey on a fellow human being. Those would be useless and hollow prayers.

Right Effort means that you want to move in increasingly more loving, nonjudgmental and cooperative ways so that Right Action and Right Words flow more naturally from the direction your life is always pointed.

1016-relax-and-succeed-four-nobel-truthsRight Mindfulness relates to your internal thoughts. Are you an ego talking to itself in words, or are you your spiritual self; a wordless observer who acts wholly based on the steps above? Without proper mindfulness it would be impossible to maintain the other aspects of the path. Your mind must be quiet and your understanding of The Four Noble Truths must be solid.

Right Concentration means that your mind needs to practice the underlying focus for all of the other steps in the Path. If you cannot maintain a relatively steady and active understanding of The Four Noble Truths then you cannot see those steps manifested in your path even though they may be right in front of you.

Look at your life. See where it does not align with these behaviours. You will feel a resistance within yourself wherever your behaviour requires justification. You might be able to explain it to yourself using ego-based words about what’s good for you, but in the end we all know we can feel when we’ve done something wrong. So in the end, when he said “When I do good I feel good, when I do bad I feel bad. That is my religion,” even Abraham Lincoln proved he was living by The Eightfold Path even though he wouldn’t have ever heard of it.

The Four Noble Truths and The Eightfold Path are not difficult concepts to understand. They are challenging to live on a daily basis if we function from a place of ego, so make sure you quiet that frightened, judgmental voice within you and your path will appear before you. From there it’s really just a matter of you deciding to be as absolute as possible about sticking to your path, and even that’s not hard when you get to see the kind of people walking that path alongside you.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.